Engineers and manufacturers dedicate their working lives to developing cutting-edge solutions, many of them inspired. So it’s fair to say that they – more than most – recognise the importance of innovation.
And with the rise of Industry 4.0, engineers’ innate desire to innovate is stronger than ever. Manufacturing is in the midst of its biggest revolution for nearly a century, according to the World Economic Forum.
Those at the forefront of this giant leap forward have been quick to identify both the power and potential of content marketing to help them drive growth. It’s these businesses that are currently charting a course, leaving others trailing in their wake.
If engineering and manufacturing are by their very nature progressive, collective attitudes towards marketing remained somewhat entrenched.
Lead generation is tough: 63% of companies cite it as their biggest challenge. And it’s made that bit tougher still when operating in a hi-tech field, packed full of complex service offerings and jargon.
This could explain why so many industrial firms were slow on the uptake of digital marketing, initially at least when it came to content marketing. Happily, this is now no longer the case.
Having bought into the concept, countless companies from these very sectors are pouring huge resources into marketing efforts – to great effect.
Last year the Content Marketing Institute discovered that 41% of industrial marketers had ringfenced budgets of $100,000 for marketing. The average annual budget meanwhile was a hefty $285,000.
The insights of our own Marketing In Manufacturing Report reveal that 79% of engineers and manufacturers plan to maintain or increase their marketing budget for 2021.
Why the sudden shift in attitude? Simple – because they are making significant headway. Content marketing works.
The CMI found that 65% of manufacturing marketers believed their company was ‘much or somewhat more successful’ with content marketing than it was 12 months ago.
Tangible results led to a further 21% adopting a content marketing strategy in this same period.
Content marketing is no longer a novelty: it is central to achieving long-term business goals for those in the engineering and marketing fields.
In the last decade there has been a realisation that you can meet prospects halfway.
A separate investigation (overseen by Engineering.com) highlighted that 58% of engineers read stories written by content marketers with the same level of scepticism they do when reading engineering editorial (35% read these articles with greater cynicism).
What they held in common was they were reading the same material (which they naturally gravitated towards).
In fact, 60% of engineers claim to consume content from digital publications on a monthly basis. That is significantly higher than the 24% that do so courtesy of conferences and trade shows.
There can be no disputing that a digital audience exists for engineers and manufacturers; these companies need only look inward to prove as much.
So competing to win that traffic (and business) has never been more important.
So how will this look in practice?
That ultimately depends on your business – no two companies are the same. However, results from the Marketing in Manufacturing Survey reveal that organic social media, regular written content and SEO have proven to be the most successful tactics in the last 12 months.
The prospect of delivering blog posts, newsletters, videos, white papers, social media updates and more can sound intimidating, particularly when that output is needed month after month.
While some will look to share the load, many simply do not have the resources available. They ask their marketing agency to deliver all the aforementioned content on their behalf. In fact, 64% choose to outsource at least one marketing activity a month (CMI).
Either way, regular content creation will help build momentum and, in time, allow your brand to enter the digital conversation.
That said a cookie-cutter approach will not suffice. Anything published should have a purpose.
You should target each prospect at certain points on their buyer’s journey. Copy should feature specific keywords and answer the questions your audience is likely to pose.
Crucially, this is about more than basic prose. Presentation and design go a long way to helping your message resonate. You are, after all, seeking to stand out.
Where possible, engineers and manufacturers (or those writing for them) should bring something new to the table. Conducting your own research or putting forward a new take will help establish your domain as both an original and authoritative source. Some 41% of senior executives said thought leadership played a role in their decision to request proposals from would-be providers.
Blogging as part of a content/inbound marketing strategy is also about the marrying of accuracy and flair. It’s vitally important any engineering terms and statistics are correct. At the same time, the content should not be so formulaic as to bore readers. Injecting some personality will help to engage an audience.
Imagination is also essential, particularly on the social front. The likes of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter lend themselves to visual posts – so investing in video and infographic design will help you to catch the eye and steal a march.
Another vital string to the bow is automation. Email marketing is another way to nurture prospects by delivering highly personalised content that helps each user to progress through their buyer’s journey.
There is no shortage of valuable resources that engineering and manufacturing companies can queue up for such an approach – be it reports, white papers, video tutorials and so on. These make for enticing hooks (with compelling calls-to-action) to convert prospects into customers.
Evidently, a growing number of engineering and manufacturing companies have cottoned on to the potential of content marketing. They now invest large sums in campaigns that generate a return on investment and then some.
Delivering all of the above will help put you front and centre when those all-important searches are made in Google and beyond. While quick wins certainly exist, it should be remembered this form of marketing is and always will be a long game. The sooner you start, the earlier you can hope to make inroads.